Thumbs-down for guidelines

6th November 1998 at 00:00
TWO MORE authorities have joined the chorus of criticism directed at the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum's revised guidelines for secondaries.

Clackmannan lambasts the plans as no more than an "arid and conservative statement of the status quo" while Stirling has described them as "irrelevant".

The guidelines are now running into serious trouble and appear unlikely to survive their initial outing. Keir Bloomer, Clackmannan's director of education, calls them a "rigid and prescriptive framework" which would "promote conformity, stifle creativity and retard the progress of the education service".

The proposals merely reinforce the subject-based formal curriculum and existing practices, Mr Bloomer said.

Gordon Jeyes, director in neighbouring Stirling, said: "If the guidelines had been produced 15 years ago we would have said, fine, but things have moved on. There is no room for experimentation or diversity in them."

Mr Bloomer says there is an "overwhelming consensus" in education about the need to break down barriers to learning but the curriculum council has "virtually nothing to say" about Government policy on raising attainment and promoting social inclusion.

The blueprint differs little from the Munn report in 1977, Clackmannan states. The council complains: "It can seriously damage motivation as the unhappy experience of compulsory modern languages demonstrates. It fails to take account of the need not only to offer opportunities for learning but to provide means of overcoming barriers to learning.

"It over-emphasises the importance of knowledge at the expense of experience and takes little account of the way in which many kinds of knowledge are increasingly subject to early obsolescence. Above all, it is unconcerned with practical considerations such as how to maximise the effectiveness of learning and teaching."

Mr Bloomer believes the curriculum should be organised more freely to emphasise basic transferable skills - how to acquire knowledge, develop personal qualities and provide a range of formative experiences.

In a final dig, the director accuses curriculum planners over the past 20 years of indulging in "an excessive reliance on prescription of processes which leads to a loss of accountability, an undervaluing of outcomes and a culture of complacency which is difficult to challenge".

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